« ZurückWeiter »
must go further for an acquaintance with its actual state. In the sixteenth and seventeenth verses of the second chapter, we find it said, “ And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden, thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” It is here we learn, what kind and amount of immortality were attached to the body: it was an immortality, an union with the soul, depending on obedience to this injunction, The telling it, that it should die if it were disobedient, was telling it, that it should not die if it were obedient. It was, therefore, made capable of retaining life. But, what was dying? The third chapter informs us, that it was “returning to the dust.” The body, then, was conditionally immortal; and, if it should incur the sentence of death, that death would be a "return to the dust.” But, God denounced death upon the whole man, if he were disobedient, soul as well as, and conjointly with, the body; nevertheless, the soul could not die by dissolution into dust. It did not come from the dust, and could not go to it. The only death it could suffer was a separation from the body, and a return to the Being from whom it came, to be dealt with by Him according to his righteous judgment. ' Separation was, indeed, death; it was death, both to soul and body, in an unredeemed state. It was death, in that it was a dissolution of the person or character of man, and a removal from what was his appointed state of life, and man could not exist as, or be called, man, as body only, or as soul only: the one was as necessary to the character as the other: its mere state of separation was death, a death unto the state in which it was created ; and it was death in a further sense, in that the body was dissolved into its original dust, and the soul was removed from a state of enjoyment into a state of wrath.
Thus it is we see what is meant when it is said that man was “ created in the image, and after the likeness,” of God. He was endued with all divine excellencies which such a being was capable of receiving. He was immortal, intelligent, and innocent. This was man in his creation; and so are we to judge in this important matter. To have right conceptions upon it is necessary, in order to righteousness. This was the state in which we were created, and designed to continue; it is the state from which we are fallen; and a renewal unto it, as far as is possible, being the condition of our recovering the favour of God, and the object of the atonement of Christ, all our efforts should be directed to our immortal state; every ability of our understanding should be used towards it; and lives of innocence should by all means be endeavoured. Let us rightly appreciate the knowledge God has given us. ' In His revelation is true knowledge, and there it is we must seek it. Careful not to wrest Scripture from its proper meaning ; not to undervalue it; not in any way to pervert or misapply it,--we shall study it with reverence and earnestness. If we did not know
from whence, from how high and happy a condition, we are fallen, we should not know for what we were to strive. If we did not know what we once were, we should not have a right notion, either of what we now are, or of what it concerns us to become. Where it is intended we should have knowledge, the Word of God is sufficiently plain. It is so in this case; that is, it is plain enough to inform us what was the original condition of man: as he was “ created in the image of God,” we have but to acquaint ourselves from Scripture with the attributes of God. I do not say that man was endued with these attributes. Even in his best estate he was as dust and ashes before his Maker. But, knowing the divine attributes, we shall learn what must be the character of the being who should be made in the image of Him that was possessed of them. The breath which He breathed must have been immortal : the qualities which He bestowed must have been pure and true. Hence, then, we understand, that man, made as we are told he was made, was endued with the excellent qualities I have named. If we say he was not endued with them, we impugn the perfectness of God, lowering the direct work of His hands.
Praise we Him for our wondrous creation ! Praise we Him for the blessed state in which He made us; for our immortality, and every good connected with it! “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. -O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" Such be our thoughts, and on them be our faith and conduct built; and then our hope will be good of admission hereafter into happiness and glory, perfect and everlasting !
Genesis i. 27, 28.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God cre
ated he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it : and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
For Man, “ made in the image, and after the likeness,” of God, was designed the dominion or government of the earth ; as, when He was about to create him, said his gracious Creator, “ Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” He was constituted lord below; to him it was, that, in pursuance of this grant, God afterwards
brought every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." High, indeed, was this station of man, and most exalted was the benevolence of the Creator in placing him in it. There was no instance of care, of loving-kindness, and of favour, in which defect could be seen. God gave him a world, well